As of March 17, 2020, Amazon let their FBA sellers know that they have temporarily disabled shipment creation for those not selling household items, medical supplies, or other products in high demand. Due to COVID-19, many household supplies (such as toilet paper) and medical supplies are out of stock on Amazon. In a move to ensure that customers have access to supplies they truly need, Amazon will be prioritizing these products and accepting only these into their fulfillment centers until April 5, 2020. This move allows Amazon to receive, restock, and deliver these necessary, in-demand items to customers who need them.
If you created a shipment before today, March 17, your shipments will still be received into fulfillment centers. Amazon knows this is a huge deal for FBA sellers, but their response to COVID-19 is important. Just yesterday, they announced that they will be adding 100,000 new full and part-time positions in their fulfillment centers as a result of the increased demand for home delivered goods from them.
What You Can Do
Since many of you do not sell medical supplies or necessary household goods, how can you continue to run your business without being able to send in more stock? Hopefully, you’ve always got enough stock on hand to cover a few months, in the event of something like this. In addition, we highly recommend using Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) as an alternative selling platform. We use FBM for all of our products, and we’ve had a great experience doing so.
How does it work? We simply work with a third party logistics company and fulfillment warehouse to hold all of our products not in FBA. Viable Shipping, a 3PL we’ve worked with for years, warehouses all of our products and manages not only our website orders but our Amazon FBM orders as well. Once you put up an FBM listing, customers can order your products right from the same listing that you currently have FBA. However, you (or your warehouse) are responsible for delivering those orders to customers.
This sounds like a ton of work, but it’s truthfully been amazing in times as uncertain as these. It allows us to still run our business on Amazon, even if we have a product that goes out of stock in their warehouses due to this temporary delay of shipments.
The Importance of Having a Plan
With any business, it’s important to have a plan of action if things aren’t able to run the way you expect. Maybe Amazon temporarily suspends your shipping and receiving, or maybe a manufacturer becomes ill or unable to provide you with a product. What will you do when that happens?
We highly recommend having an “Oh Shit Plan”. Seriously. This simply means that you plan for things to happen in advance, and you have a plan for working around certain unfortunate issues. During this temporary suspension of shipments for FBA sellers, we rely on the three months worth of stock we have in Amazon’s warehouses (which allows us to continue selling through FBA). We also rely on our own website traffic and Amazon FBM to provide additional avenues of income for our company.
Regarding manufacturing, for all of our products we have a plan of attack if a manufacturer is unable or unwilling to continue manufacturing our goods. We have talked with other suppliers who are able to manufacture the same or similar products, allowing us to continue to run our business and sell products that our customers know and love.
We know that this is a very uncertain time, but the most important things you can do for your business are to remain calm and have a plan. Having a plan in place to handle challenges with ease is the way businesses grow and thrive.